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The folks at VR Toolbox are creating their own graphics brainstorm with a suite of software programs that will bring a new life to the internet - and maybe even your own classroom - and they even have a companion curriculum to go with their products. After trying out the products and seeing online demos we are excited at what the future holds for richer, interactive graphics.
Imagine teaching a lesson about the Grand Canyon and being able to give your students a 360 degree view, or using a computer to show a computerized walk-through of your school's entire science fair! With this new software package, The VR Worx, you and your students can create virtual reality environments that can be viewed on the web or utilized for presentations in the classroom or at an open house. While it isn't for everyone, especially if you have a slow connection to the web or a slow computer, those using the broader bandwidth of ISDN or cable modems will especially appreciate the use of QuickTime movies in the classroom as well as teaching about the use of the software itself.
The technology is called QTVR: QuickTime Virtual Reality. VR Toolbox's software will organize a series of pictures, like frames in a movie, by lining them up next to each other and "stitching" the images together at the seams. The result is a QuickTime movie that allows you to view an object or environment from many different angles.
VR Toolbox's software package, The VR Worx, is comprised of the technologies found in the company's three stand alone products, built into a single comprehensive interface. The basic tools found in The VR Worx are for creating object movies (rotating a single object, like a chair), panoramic movies (similar to spinning around in a circle to see the whole room or an open space outside) and multi-node movies (a fancy way of saying that you can actually move around in a virtual reality environment as well as pick up objects.) The stand alone versions of these products are VR ObjectWorx, VR PanoWorx and VR SceneWorx.
Perhaps the best part is that VR Toolbox has just announced the completion of The VR Toolbox Curriculum - a workbook for teaching interactive imaging. As the authors put it, "The goal of this workbook is to help educators appropriately select and effectively integrate QuickTime VR into their curricula in a way that enhances learning. It is designed to meet the needs of a broad spectrum of teaching styles. There is a danger that some may embrace new technologies because they are "cool." Certainly the intrinsic appeal of multimedia can be leveraged to motivate learners but those that use technology as nothing more than a diversion or reward are missing its true power. It is our hope that the use of QTVR will unlock imaginations and contribute to the success of education in the 21st century."
More information on VR Toolbox, Inc. and its products can be found on VR Toolboxs web site at http://www.vrtoolbox.com. Be sure to visit the section dedicated to Educators. It will tell you how to get information on the considerable price discounts the company offers to educators. The company promises to continuously add to this section and regularly post items of special academic interest. VR Toolbox has also hinted at the possibility of creating a special "Student Gallery" to show off the work of students across the country who are using VR Toolbox products to produce QTVR movies.
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